27 February 2020 Volume :8 Issue :4

GSB&L Champions Programme Welcomes New Cohort of Social Entrepreneurs

GSB&L Champions Programme Welcomes New Cohort of Social Entrepreneurs
Social entrepreneurs who are joining the 2020 Champions Programme.

The Graduate School of Business and Leadership (GSB&L) Champions Programme recently welcomed 10 social entrepreneurs into its 2020 cohort.

The programme, which is currently in its seventh iteration, is a social enterprise development intervention that is part of a partnership between the KwaZulu-Natal Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Department (EDTEA) and the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Speaking on the success of the Champions Programme, its facilitator, Professor Shahida Cassim said that the 10 month social entrepreneurship development programme is producing change makers that are innovating the social entrepreneurship landscape.

‘We had 60 applicants and selected only 10 individuals who are focused on enriching their communities. It is an honour and a privilege for me to nurture these social entrepreneurs who don’t care about enriching themselves but are passionate about bring transformational change to their communities and beyond. All of our alumni are not only running sustainable enterprises but are on the cutting-edge of innovation and even operating globally,’ she said.

For entrepreneurs, Ms Sbonile Sithole and Ms Portia Mdakane of Nquthu, experiencing the harsh realities of living in a rural area plagued by unemployment is what drove them to be job creators.

‘As a person who comes from a poor rural place, I have adopted the vuk'uzenzele (get up and do it yourself) mind-set,’ said Sithole.

‘This is why I’m empowering women and the youth with cooking and baking skills for better employment opportunities or for them to run their own businesses. I’m also venturing into the agribusiness side where I am in the process of producing my own wine using beetroot, so I am very excited to be part of the Champions programme and gaining new skills to expand my business,’ said Sithole.

Mdakane, who is in the fashion business, says she is upskilling the youth to inspire them to develop a job creator mind-set rather than a job seeker one.

‘For Nquthu residents, the nearest town with employment opportunities is Newcastle which is a couple of hours drive away,’ said Mdakane. ‘This means that people have to leave their homes and their children behind resulting in a lot of child-headed households and poverty stricken homes. Some young women are having babies in order to get social grants, which is further adding to the problem as the money they get is insufficient to feed the family. I am hoping to be a positive influence in breaking this vicious cycle and help more people in my community to put food on the table,’ she said.

EDTEA representative, Mr Patrick Mbokazi said the strategic partnership had yielded positive results through producing leaders who were informed about local economic development and the needs of the people in their communities.

‘We are very proud of this partnership as the skills these entrepreneurs are gaining are crucial for the transformation of South Africa’s economy, especially also as we are working on developing a policy on social entrepreneurship,’ said Mbokazi. ‘We are looking forward to being part of your journey and helping you to achieve your mission of growing your enterprises.’

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Siphosethu Dlamini

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